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. >>> this was a bittersweet day at the vatican as pope benedict xvi made his final sunday appearance as the church faced new allegations of wrongdoing. nbc's anne thompson is at the vatican for us again tonight. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. today's events, you can see both the strengths and weaknesses of the catholic church, the exuberant energy and faith in the massive crowd gathered here, and the new charges of abuse that continue to haunt this institution. today, the world came to st. peter's square for pope benedict's final sunday blessing. part pep rally. part prayer service. just being in the crowd of 1,000 was a learning experience for these american students. >> that the faith has no national boundaries and political interests. >> reporter: the object of their affection and gratitude, the 85-year-old pontiff. he told the crowd he is not abandoning the church but answering god's call to more prayer and meditation, more appropriate for his age and strength. yet even in this joyful square, the scandals that marked his papacy were on the minds of some. >> i think he has done an
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